30 years after Fr. Alingal’s death: Bukidnon remembers a man in search of justice through peaceful means

MALAYBALAY CITY – In a reunion among at least 1,400 church lay miniters or alagad, Miarayon, Talakag, Bukidnon parish priest Fr. Mat Sanchez reminded church workers of the life and death of his fellow Jesuit slain priest Godofredo Alingal in time for the 3oth anniversary of his death.

He told Bukidnon News the slain priest is best remembered for choosing the path of “active non-violence” despite the violence faced by the people of Bukidnon during the Martial Law years.
Alingal was the parish priest of the Immaculate Conception Church in Kibawe, Bukidnon, and the director of the parish’s Stella Matutina Academy. He was shot and killed at the age of 58 in 1981, during the martial law era. He was known for defending the rights of poor farmers in the town.
On April 13, 1981, the Monday before Easter, five unidentified men, two bearing revolvers and three others masked in handkerchiefs, entered the rectory of the priest.
A minute later, he was shot in the chest and killed. Alingal has served Kibawe, Bukidnon for 13 years.
“He opted he active non-violent way instead of resorting to violence, or not doing anything at all,” Sanchez added.
In his homily during the mass on the second day of the lay minister’s gathering, Sanchez said Alingal showed the way to peace by not supporting armed struggle as an alternative to the despotic regime of President Ferdinand Marcos.
He said Alingal’s life and death later became a threat to those who abused the people during Martial Law.
Sanchez reflected on the “Empty Tomb in Kibawe,” a piece written by the late Bukidnon bishop Francisco Claver on Alingal’s death.
Claver’s popular piece cited the tomb built by the parishioners for their slain priest. It was not used because Alingal’s remains were buried in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte his hometown upon request of his mother.
The late bishop wrote that Kibawe’s empty tomb for Alingal was like Christ’s empty tomb during the resurrection.
“There was no wondrous rising from the dead in Kibawe, true, but the promise was there, and the faith in that promise,” Claver added, as quoted by Sanchez.
Sanchez said Alingal’s death and his way of resurrection came in the people’s hope and leaving their fears to fight against abusers during Martial Law.
“The people became courageous by the hope the priest has inspired,” he added.
Soon, he added, people started talking more about the military and the rebel abuses in Church and town gatherings.
“It was sort of an early form of people power back in 1981,” Sanchez said.

Hermogenes Cadiz, 71, a farmer and lay minister from Kibawe and one of Alingal’s alagads, said the priest earned the ire of some businessmen at that time who were affected by the church’s campaign against loan sharks and irregular business practices like inaccurate weighing scale for the town’s grain buy and sell industry.
But he clarified that there were two angles to his death, one by hired killers by those he offended in his campaign and, the other, the rebels.
Bur Cadiz said Alingal’s death failed to stop the people’s resolve to go against abuses during the Martial Law years.
“It was clear that Fr. Alingal was following the church’s teachings on peace and non-violence. He fought against oppressors, both in uniform and the rebels,” he said.
He said Alingal’s defense of the rights of poor farmers earned him the dislike of political and military officials in the area.

The Sojourners magazine reported that on April 20, about 4,000 local farmers and their families attended Father Alingal’s funeral, despite lingering fears of more repression.
“Some of them even organized a procession to the funeral with banners, including one that read, “Is death the answer for speaking for justice?”
Claver said Alingal could have avoided death had he chosen to remain silent.
“He could have closed his eyes to the evils he saw around him. He could have given in to fear, yielding to threats in his life, abandoning his flock to the ravening wolves. But no,” he said.
“He was for justice, actively, uncompromisingly. He was also against violence, just as actively, just as uncompromisingly,” Claver said in his piece written a week after Alingal’s funeral. (Walter I. Balane)